Author Tags: Kidlit & Young Adult
Kit Pearson received the 11th annual Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence in 2014. [See press release and acceptance speech below]
Kit Pearson was born in Edmonton in 1947. She attended UBC and worked as a children's librarian in St. Catherines, North York and Burnaby for ten years prior to receiving the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award, the Mr. Christie's Book Award and the Geoffrey Bilson for Historical Fiction for Young People Prize for The Sky Is Falling (1989), the first of three novels about two English children evacuated to Canada to escape the bombing of World War II. Looking at the Moon (1991) and The Lights Go On Again (1993) complete the trilogy.
Pearson's A Handful of Time (1987) won a Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award and was preceded a year earlier by her first book, The Daring Game.
A Perfect Gentle Knight (Penguin $20) 0-670-06682-6, 2007
This Land, Anthology Editor. Toronto: Penguin, 1998.
The Guests of War Trilogy. Toronto: Penguin, 1998.
Awake and Dreaming. Toronto: Penguin Books Canada Limited, 1996.
The Lights Go On Again. Toronto: Penguin Books Canada Limited, 1993; Puffin Classics, 2014.
Looking at the Moon. Toronto: Penguin Books Canada Limited, 1991; Puffin Classics, 2014.
The Singing Basket (Illustrated by Ann Blades). Groundwood, 1990.
The Sky is Falling. Toronto: Penguin Books Canada Limited, 1989; Puffin Classics, 2014.
A Handful of Time. Toronto: Penguin Books Canada Limited, 1987.
The Daring Game. Toronto: Penguin Books Canada Limited, 1986.
[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2014] "Kidlit"
A Handful of Time (Penguin)
Kit Pearson's A Handful of Time (Penguin 1987) is a junior novel that explores the psychological aspects of time shift fantasy.
Twelve year old Patricia is a shy, reserved Torontonian suffering from the conflicts of her parents' impending divorce. Upon joining her cousins at their summer cottage and feeling like an unwelcome outsider, Patricia enters a second time period 35 years earlier. The talisman or device which initiates the travel is an old pocket watch. But the force which propels Patricia into the past is really her own emotional turbulence.
During her visits to the past Patricia observes the hardships of her mother when she was on the brink of adolescence. An invisible and ghost-like witness at these times, Patricia sees her mother struggling within a family that expected girls to be subservient and docile. Seen as a highly intelligent and fiery rebel, the mother wins her daughter's understanding and compassion as never before.
A Handful of Time is the story of three generations of women: the dominating, manipulative grandmother, the tense mother who works as a CBC TV host, and Patricia. The details of canoeing, horse back riding, summer hijinks and conflict with cousins are the perennial stuff of many a summer adventure story. But the time travel element is what makes this novel special. It is treated with the same quiet restraint and subtle control that is exhibited in the writing style.
With this book Pearson has become only the fifth B.C. writer ever to earn the Canadian Library Association's Book-of-the- Year award. Since children's librarians began presenting the prize in 1947, the other B.C. recipients have been Roderick Haig-Brown, Catherine Anthony Clark, Christie Harris (twice) and Ann Blades.--by Judith Saltman
[BCBW Summer 1988]
Looking at the Moon (Viking $17.99)
EVER SINCE THE SKY IS FALLING BY KIT Pearson was published in 1989 I have had numerous requests in my library for its sequel. Her followers will be pleased to know that the sequel is to be released this fall, the second of a proposed trilogy. The sky Is Falling follows the plight of Norah, ten, and Gavin, five, who had been sent by their parents from England to Canada during World War II to become "war guests" in the home of the wealthy Mrs. Ogilvie and her daughter. Pearson's Looking at the Moon (Viking $17.99) continues the story of Norah, now 13 and Gavin, 8, during an almost idyllic summer at the family's cottage in Muskoka in 1943. Life in Canada has become familiar and comfortable for Gavin, but Norah continues to question and contrast their safe and affluent surroundings with the precarious life of her parents in Britain. Norah would rather spend her time boating and swimming than talking with the other girls about shaving their legs or the latest fads in fashion and make up. She refuses to succumb to the croonings of Frank Sinatra or the teenage obsessions of her 'adopted' older cousins. As Norah reaches puberty, Mrs. Ogilvie explains only that Norah has a monthly "little visitor which sweeps out the little room inside her". When this version of her menstrual period is replaced by a cousin’s more accurate information, Norah responds adamantly: "I'm not going to have anything to do with this curse! I won't do it!" Then the dashing Andrew Drummond appears at the family cottage and Norah falls in love. Everyone expects the 18-year old to enlist in the army, but he confides to Norah that he's a pacifist and will refuse to go. Norah first feels shock that he wouldn't want to fight against Hitler, but then realizes that Andrew could be killed. It's a summer of change, of awareness of the complexities of life, of first love, of growing up. Kit Pearson's novels are favourites with girls aged 9 to13. Her writing career began with the publication of The Daring Game (1986) followed by A Handful of Time (1987) which won the CLA Book of the Year award for children. The Sky is Falling won also the CLA Award, plus the Mr. Christie Book award, and the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Canadian historical fiction.
0-670-84097-1—by Allison Haupt
[BCBW 1991] “Kidlit”
Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence
Press Release (2014)
Vancouver, BC – The West Coast Book Prize Society is proud to recognize Kit Pearson as the recipient of the 11th annual Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.
British Columbia’s Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Judith Guichon, will present the award at the Lieutenant Governor’s BC Book Prizes Gala to be held at the Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel in Vancouver on Saturday, May 3, 2014. The event will be hosted by author, activist, and comedian Charles Demers.
"In a career spanning three decades, Kit Pearson has demonstrated mastery in that most traditional of genres, the novel for young readers. In both her fantasies and her historical fiction she looks to the past: to Canada’s war guests, to the War of 1812, to Alberta in 1949, and to Mayne Island in the 1930s. She sees children as those residents of the past who are largely overlooked in the story of where we have come from.
"Adults, who decide on things like book prizes, have noticed Kit’s accomplished writing. Adults note her meticulous research, her narrative skill, her imaginative choice of subjects from all across this country, and her clearly crafted prose. She has won the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award, the Mr. Christie’s Book Award, the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction, the Governor General’s Literary Award, and a host of other honours.
"Children sometimes vote for awards as well and in casting their votes for Kit in the Red Cedar Book Award, the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Awards, and the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards, they have honoured something much more important in Kit’s work: emotional authenticity. Kit’s characters are never cute, generic, or remote. They are complicated, individual, and flawed. Sometimes they lie. Sometimes they are unkind. Sometimes they are unlikeable. In other words, they are real. Kit’s readers resonate to this honesty with deep enthusiasm.
"Kit is a generous member of the children’s writing community, being one of the co-founders of BC’s children’s writers and illustrators’ organization, CWILL BC, which provides writers and illustrators with a way to connect, support each other, and promote children’s books. She credits reading L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon as an inspiration for becoming a writer. She passes the tradition along. Who knows what young apprentice writer is reading one of Kit Pearson’s books right at this moment?" – Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence jury
KIT PEARSON was born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1947 and grew up there and in Vancouver. She received her B.A. from the University of Alberta, her M.L.S. from the University of British Columbia, and her M.A. from the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children’s Literature in Boston. She worked for ten years as a children’s librarian in Ontario and BC, and is now a full-time writer living in Victoria. Her books have been published in Canada in English and French, in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, China, and Korea. She has won many awards for her writing, including the Vicky Metcalf Award for her body of work in 1998.
The jury for this year’s Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence was: Sarah Ellis, children’s author and 2013 recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence; Sheila Peacock, CBC Producer; and, Jessica Walker, Store Manager at Munro’s Books.
Lt. Governor's Award 2014
Thank you for this very great honour.
When I was at the book prize gala in Victoria last year, my partner Katherine and I found ourselves seated across from the Lt Gov. We quickly discovered that we all had dogs, and that her honour missed hers very much. Somehow, during the course of the evening, Katherine ended up inviting her honour’s dogs to stay at our house.
Thus when I received a phone call from her honour in February my first surprised thought was that she meant to take us up on this offer! Of course she didn’t (although our poodle would welcome her dogs any time!). She was telling me the absolutely thrilling news that I had been honoured with this award.
Last year was a milestone because a writer for children, Sarah Ellis, received this award for the first time. Now that it has once again gone to a children’s writer, perhaps it can be stated that writers for the young have finally – at least in B.C.! – been recognized as being on the same level as those who write for adults.
Actually, we have never been very different. In fact, there is more difference between, for example, being a poet for adults and a non-fiction writer for adults than there is between being a novelist in either the adult or children’s genre. What this award recognizes is that I am simply a novelist – a novelist whose audience happens to be children. I struggle with the same problems as any other fiction writer.
Here, for example, are some of the questions about my current novel that wake me up at night: How much am I allowed to fictionalize real people from history? Shall I use the present or the past tense? After writing for thirty years, why can’t I find fresh ways to describe someone crying? And why, or why, do I keep repeating the same sentences, such as, “There was an awkward silence.” Every novelist is challenged by similar questions.
The content of my books isn’t much different from adult books, either. Going to boarding school, being trapped by war, having a difficult mother, worrying about a mentally ill brother, trying to keep important secrets, even travelling back in time: these are all topics that have been covered in adult literature. Even the fact that my protagonists are aged nine to thirteen isn’t different: there are innumerable adult novels about the difficulties of being young in an adult world.
The only difference is one– my intended audience, which is older children and young teens. This means that I write with a kind of double vision, seeing the world through the eyes of, say, an eleven-year-old girl, but interpreting the story from an adult’s point of view. I have a responsibility for my readers that writers for adults don’t have to worry about: I have to make sure that, no matter how grown up my subject, I am clearly presenting it in a way that takes into account children’s inexperience both in reading and in living.
Apart from this one difference, writers for children and writers for adults share the same passion for words and stories, whether fictional or true. As Margaret Laurence famously said, writers are a tribe. I feel very privileged to belong to the B.C. branch of that tribe.
I would like to end with some thank yous. Thank you to my family and friends for your loving support, especially to my beloved partner Katherine Farris. Thank you to my three publishers: Harper Collins Canada, who nominated me for this award, Penguin Books Canada, and Scholastic Canada. Thank you to the committee and jury for all their hard work. Thank you to all of you who bring books and readers together. Thank you to my fellow children’s writers and illustrators for your friendship and inspiration over all these years. And one more thank you, to a person whose spirit is hovering in this room: a wise, sometimes cranky, and utterly devoted advocate of children’s literature: my former mentor, Sheila Egoff. Sheila’s high standards for writing made sure that my reach would always exceed my grasp; and she would be so proud that I am receiving this award.